(Sports Network) – A.J. Burnett attempts to bounce back from his first loss of the season this afternoon when the New York Yankees continue their three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
Burnett, who won 18 games as a member of the Blue Jays in 2008, has struggled against his former team since joining the Yankees, going 1-4 with a 6.50 earned run average in eight starts since signing a five-year $82.5 million deal prior to the start of the 2009 campaign. Burnett, though, did not get a decision against the Jays on April 19, as he surrendered three runs (two earned) and six hits in 5 1/3 frames of a 6-5 loss.
Burnett suffered a hard-luck loss his last time out against the Chicago White Sox, as he allowed a run and three hits over eight innings, but was on the losing end of the 2-0 decision, dropping him to 3-1 on the year to go along with a 3.52 ERA.
“I’m definitely taking big steps forward,” said Burnett, who produced the worst statistical season ever by a Yankee starter in 2010. “It was a grind early, and it could have easily flipped. Where I am now, the confidence I have, I know I can pitch. I don’t have to rear back and rely on heat. I make pitches, and that’s what I did.”
New York could use another strong outing from Burnett after it lost the opener of this series on Friday. Jose Bautista hit a two-run homer and J.P. Arencibia added a solo shot, as Toronto held on for a 5-3 win.
Bautista’s home run put the Jays in front for good and was his American League-leading ninth of the season. He also tops the AL in runs (25), walks (28) and batting average (.372).
“Thankfully he’s in our uniform,” said Toronto manager John Farrell. “Whether it’s an aggressive play on the basepaths, whether it’s getting the right pitch in a certain situation and he drives it out of the ballpark. We’ve said it a number of times, he’s very much a complete player.”
Ricky Romero (2-3) picked up the win after limiting New York to two runs on five hits and three walks in six innings. He also struck out seven.
“He throws fastballs 95, 96 that move all over the place,” Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said of Romero. “He’s mixing two-seamer, sinker, cutter and then he was mixing in his off-speed pitches. He pretty much kept us off-balance all night.”
Jon Rauch recorded a four-out save for the Blue Jays, who have won four of their last five.
Robinson Cano homered twice for the Yankees, but they couldn’t take advantage of several bases-loaded situations and fell to 2-3 on their seven-game homestand.
Freddy Garcia (1-1) took the loss after giving up three runs in five innings.
Getting the call for the Blue Jays today will be young right-hander Kyle Drabek, who is 2-0 with a 3.20 ERA. Drabek defeated the Texas Rangers his last time out, holding them to three runs and five hits over six innings.
Drabek did not get a decision against the Yanks back on April 19, but is 0-1 in two starts against them and has pitched to a 5.56 ERA in those two outings.
The Yankees split a two game-set with the Blue Jays last week after Toronto took 10 of 18 in the series a year ago. The Jays were 4-5 in the Bronx in 2010.